Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Differences in Motor Activities of Greek Professional Football Players Who Play Most of the Season (2016/17)

Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Differences in Motor Activities of Greek Professional Football Players Who Play Most of the Season (2016/17)

Article excerpt

Introduction

Modern football is characterized by highly dynamic and acyclical game movements, interspersed with frequent bouts of high-speed movements and a number of high variability of actions, players' motor and mental preparation as well as technical-tactical skills (Bangsbo, 1994; Bangsbo & Krustrup, 2009). Motion analysis of the match performance of elite football players is important in order to determine the necessary motor potential for players and define standards in modern football (Konefal, Chumura, Kowalczuk, Andrzejewski, & Chumura, 2015).

Professional football clubs utilize Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system to monitor the players speed and distance covered during training and official competitive matches. Collectively, the data provides the total external workload placed on a player. Distance covered by players and teams in a game is one of the objective methods in assessing performance. Elite football players can cover from 10 to 13.5km during a game, which depends on playing position (Bangsbo, 1994; Barros et al., 2007; Di Salvo et al., 2007).

Players' speed skills are crucial for top football performance. Football players from top-level national leagues can cover sprinting distances from 152 to 446m, depending on their position on the field, while players from the UEFA European League teams, from 167 to 345m (Andrzejewski, Chmura, Pluta, Strzelczyk, & Kasprzak, 2013; Bradley et al., 2009; Di Salvo, et al., 2007).

It is very difficult for football players to maintain their motor skills at a relatively high level across an annual season including both the pre-season (preparation phase) and in-season phases using GPS monitoring methods (Andrzejewski, et al., 2013). Although the typical training daily program of professional players may be sufficient in order to promote readiness for the next match, it could also be suggested that it is the participation in match play itself that is the most important and appropriate stimulus for preparing players for the physical demands of match play (Silva et al., 2011). In this way, discrepancies in physical loads between players could lead to differences in important components of fitness which could subsequently presented itself on match day when irregular participants players not accustomed to match loads are now required to complete the habitual physical loads performed by regular staring players (Anderson et al., 2016).

Although GPS devices are now being used officially during matches by numerous football clubs, very little information is still available about their application to the study of physical profiles in elite football players during official competition matches. To the best of this study author's knowledge, no study addressed the physical and physiological profile of players with different starting status [Regular Participants-(RPR) and Irregular Participants (IPP)] using GPS technology in seasonal official matches in Greek League.

With this in mind, the aim of the present study was to investigate the seasonal variations in physical (motor) activities of elite professional Greek football players in official matches of a national League and in UEFA European matches across an annual season by separated the season in eight month period in those players considered as RPP and IPP.

Materials & methods

Design and Participants

The study covered all domestic national league games, national Cup and European league (qualification of Champions League or UEFA Europa league groups) of 45 matches in 2016/2017 season. Data were collected for one entire annual season spanning 49 weeks, from June 27th, 2016 to April 30th, 2017 (6 weeks of the preparation phase and 43 weeks in-season). The team used for data collection competed in 3 official competitions across the season, included European competition, which often means that the team played 2 or 3 matches per week (included national Cup matches).

Twenty-seven elite outfield professional football players belonging to a Greek team took part in the present study. …

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